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War over Pathankot attack: Congress targets Modi, BJP hits back

Congress asks government to call off talks with Pak; BJP tells rival party not to politicise national security.

Terror in Pathankot Updated: Jan 05, 2016 14:47 IST
Pathankot Indian Air Force facility

Policemen patrol at a residential area near the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot. The attack at the air base near the border with Pakistan began early Saturday morning.(AP)

Guns fell silent at Pathankot air base on Tuesday after troops killed the last terrorist holed up there but the political war on the attack escalated with the Congress and BJP trading barbs over scheduled India-Pakistan talks.

The Congress came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for engaging in talks with Pakistan despite the attack of the IAF base, saying a dialogue in Islamabad between foreign secretaries of the two countries should be called off.

“Terror and talks can’t go hand in hand. After Ufa (a Russian resort where Modi met Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif), you saw the Gurdaspur attack. After Lahore, you have seen Pathankot. So under these circumstances first thing this government must do is to call off the foreign secretary-level talks,” Congress leader Manish Tewari said.

The BJP countered its main rival, saying it should stop politicising terror.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked the Congress to keep petty politics aside when it came to national security.

Read: Missed clues, security gaps in run-up to Pathankot airbase attack

“Terrorism is an international challenge and the world is fighting against it as one. Amid such a situation, things should not be said that bolster the confidence of the terrorists and our global war against terrorism is affected,” Naqvi said.

“They (Congress) need to introspect and think about their political childishness. They also need to think about what they say during such sensitive times when the nation is standing together.”

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said any party trying to gain political mileage from the terror attack with untimely comments was condemnable.

“They are making such comments even when an operation is going on the field and our security forces are fighting bravely and have given their life. It shows the Congress in poor light,” he said.

Congress continued with their verbal barrage, targeting the government’s “soft stand” on Pakistan.

Policemen patrol near the Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot. The attack at the air base near the border with Pakistan began early Saturday morning . (AP)

Read: Gaping holes along border, says BSF’s Pathankot attack report to Centre

Tewari said the NDA government was bending over backwards to please a hostile neighbour. “There is a growing perception in the strategic circles that this government is going to hand over Sir Creek and Siachen to Pakistan. So, it is very imperative that this government makes a declaration and take the nation into confidence as to what transpired during its engagements with Pakistan.”

Party colleague Anand Sharma made a similar demand, separately.

“After cancellation of NSA-level talks in August, what was the understanding reached between NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart in Bangkok? After the Pathankot attack, the government should take the nation into confidence and consult all political parties.”

The political war of words continued even as security forces searched the sprawling air base on Tuesday for any more terrorist hidden there. It is spread over more than 2,000 acres, including forests and fields.

The base has a fleet of Russian-origin MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, along with other military hardware. Officials said no military hardware was damaged in the fighting.

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